What is Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Florida?

What is Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Florida?

In Florida, Driving Under the Influence (DUI) can be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on how many prior offenses you have. For example, if this is your first offense, or you only have one prior DUI, it will be a misdemeanor.

If you are charged with your third DUI within 10 years of your previous conviction, or if this is your 4th or subsequent offense, it is a felony.

What must the State prove to find me guilty?

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To prove the crime of Driving Under the Influence, the State must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The Defendant drove or was in actual physical control of a vehicle.
  2. While driving or in actual physical control of the vehicle, the Defendant:
    • a. was under the influence of alcoholic beverages, a chemical substance, or a controlled substance to the extent that his/her normal faculties were impaired;
    • OR
    • b. had a blood/breath-alcohol level of .08 or more grams of alcohol

As you can see, there are really two ways the State can prove your guilt: (1) using a breath/blood test, if one exists; or (2) showing your normal faculties were impaired by alcohol or drugs.

What are your "normal faculties?"

They include, but are not limited to, your ability to:

  • See
  • Hear
  • Walk
  • Talk
  • Judge distances
  • Drive an automobile
  • Make judgments
  • Act in emergencies
  • Mental/physical acts of our daily lives

What does "actual physical control" mean?

Many people are surprised to learn that you don't have to be driving a car or even be behind the wheel to be guilty of DUI. If you are merely in actual physical control of the vehicle, you can be arrest.

Actual physical control means you are physically in or on the vehicle and have the capability to operate the vehicle, regardless of whether you are actually operating the vehicle at the time. For example, you could be entering your car with the keys to be guilty according to the law.

What is Breath or Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)?

In you are arrested for DUI, law enforcement will ask you to submit to a breath or blood test to confirm your guilt. They will read you a statement called implied consent, which, in part, will advise that your refusal to submit to testing will result in your driver's license being suspended.

If you agree to take the test, law enforcement will ask you to provide two breath samples into a machine. This machine will calculate your BAC and print out a report. The results on this test can make or break your case.

  • If your BAC is over .08, you are presumed to be legally impaired.
  • If your BAC is over .05 but less than .08, there is no presumption that you were or were not impaired.
  • If your BAC is .05 or less, you are presumed NOT to be under the influence to the extent your normal faculties are impaired.

Please click here to learn more about DUI punishments and sanctions.

If you are a loved one has been charged with DUI you need an experienced Destin DUI lawyer. Please contact us today for a free consultation!